In an ever-changing world, it comes as no surprise that business leaders require an evolving set of skills if they are to afford their companies a competitive edge in the global arena. While the concept of “lifelong learning” has been around for some time, today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment calls for a new approach to training in general, and executive and personal coaching in particular.
Trends in executive coaching
Emerging trends in executive coaching are demonstrative of this shift in requirements, highlighting the shortcomings of traditional executive education. Whereas previous executive education programs have focused on discipline-based skills and have been episodic, exclusive and expensive, those of tomorrow will need to teach more perceptual, interpretive, affective and communicative skills to a broader base of participants. Moving away from deep dives into specific cognitive skills and development tracking, the next generation of executive coaching programs will seek to equip participants with the sub-skills that facilitate effective collaboration. This will see providers offer more customized, cohort-based programs, tailored more closely to different companies’ talent development needs, while also fostering a global mindset.
A decline in consulting in favor of increased interaction between coaches and executives, combined with the difficulty experienced by many businesses in attracting and retaining top talent, has increased the necessity for executive coaches. No longer the preserve of large enterprises, executive coaching is set to become commonplace - even in the absence of specific performance issues to troubleshoot. As an ever-present force in the successful leadership of the future, coaching will assist executives in delivering on both present and future targets, relieving some of the pressure, reducing stress and increasing productivity.
Leadership skills of the future
In a bid to maximize executives’ potential, sidestep complacency and encourage accountability, tomorrow’s executive and personal coaching will have to develop the following skills:
- Vucability: Exercising the agility necessary to master a VUCA landscape and practice professional change leadership.
- Cognitive flexibility, computational & lateral thinking: Ensuring added value and appropriate actions against the backdrop of new technologies and rapid change.
- Ability to juggle short-term deliverables and future vision: Delivering results in the short term while also setting the course for future success.
- A broad scope of awareness teamed with intentional focus: Exercising the intentionality required for targeted action without losing sight of significant issues lurking on the periphery.
- Interpersonal skills: Demonstrating emotional intelligence, empowering employees, harnessing empathy and applying communication skills.
- Conflict resolution: Mitigating friction.
- Cultural sensitivity: Drawing upon multinational and multicultural experiences for a better understanding of country-specific social drivers, market realities, economic pressures, customer needs and expectations.
- Objective analysis: Being aware of biases and able to distance oneself from them in decision-making.
- The art of facilitation: Facilitating learning for others.
- Ability to leverage a global mindset : Being mindful of the global marketplace and its repercussions on business decisions.
This last point relies heavily upon executives’ propensity to question their automatic responses and consider business decisions in an international, diverse context, in turn facilitated by specific mindset attributes:
Mindset goals for leaders in global organizations:
- open-mindedness & genuine curiosity
- appreciation of diversity & understanding of inclusivity
- embodiment of positive psychology
Delivering the best coaching experience
With these skills and mindset goals in view, developing leadership in global organizations is best supported by coaches who can contribute tangible experience. This is likely to be manifested in a greater tendency toward specialization among coaches, as well as the emergence of a typography of coach categories, each requiring different qualifications. Increased emphasis on coach-executive relationships is also expected to provide the framework for managers to shed their emotional armor, allowing for the vulnerability required to achieve true personal growth, which should then translate to professional growth.
Naturally, new coaching outcomes can only be achieved with the help of new coaching methodologies. These will range from the preferred channel of delivery to the adopted didactic approach. Thanks to the vast range of technological options to which managers have become accustomed, coaching will have to slot seamlessly into busy schedules. Online courses, social platforms, learning tools - in short, the personal learning cloud will be the medium of choice, while micro-learning sessions and gamification will increase the reach of coaching. Meanwhile, some coaches may attempt to overcome the skills transfer gap by offering learning opportunities in memorable, fun formats.
With so much onus on executive and personal coaching to guide executives through the challenge of leading in global organizations, it pays to be selective. EHL Advisory Services’ executive coaching program brings you best-in-class Swiss education know-how and people development expertise. That certainly sounds like the kind of clout and business acumen we would want in our corner.